Overview: A Degree in Criminal Justice

The study of criminal justice usually involves topics such as statistics, methods of research, policing, criminal courts, corrections, victimology, theories of prevention, and more.

It is distinctly different from criminology, which is the study of crime as a social phenomenon, causes of crime, criminal behavior, and other aspects of crime. Whether you study criminal justice or criminology, either degree will prepare you for employment in the field of criminal justice.

Typical Degree Requirements

Many universities offer degrees in criminal justice at an undergraduate, graduate, and/or post-graduate level. The degree program typically involves an interdisciplinary study of criminology, sociology, psychology, and practical and technical policing skills. As well, students are required to study the functions of local as well as foreign criminal justice systems and particular crime issues that are faced by society today.

Research is encouraged — at times necessary depending on the level of education you wish to receive — as many universities are at the forefront of creating new crime prevention methods following the research and study of trends in present criminal justice institutions.

Within a general criminal justice degree, students can also choose to specialize by concentrating in areas such as:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Courts/Judiciary¬†¬†¬†
  • Corrections
  • Forensic Science
  • Criminology

Required Skills

Typically skillsets that are needed will vary depending on which profession in the criminal justice field you wish to go into; however most students who study criminal justice have strong analytical skills. Those who have a strong sense of justice and empathy, as well as a deep-rooted understanding of the criminal justice system could consider a career as a judge. Those who are interested in see patterns across many different fields as well as an interest in the study of crime usually end up as criminologists — working as detectives or interrogators.

Employment Opportunities

Those who graduate with a criminal justice degree have a number of career options open to them, due to the wide scope of the criminal justice field. Careers can include FBI agents, DEA, ICE, border patrol, attorneys, judges, activists, and more. Some jobs such as media correspondents and behavior profilers are typically more geared towards those who have a degree specifically in criminology; however if you have a general criminal justice degree with a focus in criminology there is a chance you can also obtain similar employment.

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